The Week — June 9

New bike racks equal city support, first Vancouver Island-trained guide dog finds his home

The City of Victoria and Downtown Victoria Business Association has offered these new bike racks as a solution to cyclists who want a more cycle-friendly city.

New bike racks equal city support

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) and the City of Victoria unveiled a new treat for Victorians this week, just in time for Bike to Work Week. Is it a new route, a maintenance station, or — goodness — more bike lanes? Even better: some delightful new bike racks.

What? Did you think the city was made of money? While some are lamenting the fact that the $20,000 allocated for rack placement this year could have popped a wheelie for some other cycle-related use, city councillor Philippe Lucas says the move is symbolic in a good show for the city’s priorities.

“I think it’s great to see the city and DVBA committing to alternative modes of transportation, and I see this as one of many steps to making our city more cycle-friendly — it’s an opportunity for the city to take some real pride in branding,” says Lucas.

The made-in-Victoria racks offer a vibrant red structure in the shape of a V, not to be confused with a very similar looking YMCA logo. Locations for the new racks will be prioritized based on key locations with antiquated racks downtown. Efforts were a joint initiative and Lucas says, in mind of the recent cycle festival that happened in Victoria last week, the biking community has responded well to the move.

“If nothing else, the new racks are a commitment Victoria is making to show how much we care about cycling as a way of life, and it makes our city one of the cycle leaders in Canada,” he says.

Lucas acknowledges that there is still much to do to create a more user-friendly cycle culture in the city, including expanding bike trails, funding sharrow projects, providing appropriate access and lighting on bridges, and more.

Meanwhile, grab a chain and make use of those shiny new racks.

A home of their own

Thrilling news for the BC Guide Dog Services this week, when the first Vancouver Island-trained dog, Eddy, was placed in the home of Donna Hudon, a sight-impaired Nanaimo woman, who “purchased” him for one loonie.

Eddy, who will remain in the training of BC Guide Dogs during his tenure, will serve Hudon for the next 8 to 10 years, then will retire either to Hudon’s care or to a new owner. At two years old, Eddy is the first of three dogs to be trained on the Island, since BC Guide Dogs moved into their new Victoria location last Thursday. The other two will be appointed to at-need homes in the coming weeks.

“It’s wonderful to be part of something that can impact people’s lives so deeply, but still so many people are unaware of the work we do,” says Barbara Haley, communications manager for the Vancouver Island BC Guide Dog Services. “The dogs are able to provide people with a very advanced style of mobility and, often, new independence.”

While the dogs cost approximately $37,000 from breeding to raising to training, it costs the recipients only a token loonie. BC Guide Dogs receives no governmental funding, but relies on donations and  volunteers to house the dogs until they find their eventual matches. Currently, homes are needed for three in-training dogs in August.

“Often, we’ll blindfold sighted people, and let them be led around by the dogs,” says Haley. “It can be an amazing experience, just to have a glimpse into how much we rely on our own sight, and how intelligent these dogs really are.”

Those interested in getting involved, housing a dog or puppy, or making a donation can visit bcguidedog.com, or call Haley at 250-217-3132. M

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